Parton Me: OMG! FML! IDK MY BFF FDR? YOLO!!@
Me: So I think I want to save up some money, quit my day job, and make zines for a living. Set up my own distro and offer free digital downloads with every purchase.
Friend: How will you make money from that?
Me: Selling them?
Friend: Oh right.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN YOU CAN’T DECIDE WHICH OF YOU DIDN’T THINK YOUR SITUATION THROUGH.
Never mind that shit.
Time to tell people what to do with their lives!
Black Dahlia Parton,
So, here’s my situation: I’m 30, a pansexual gurl. I’m in a NSA relationship with my best friend and have been sleeping with them for years now. They’re in a committed (open) relationship and we have no intention to make it official or anything. I’m really happy with what we have going.
But I’ve started seeing this guy. He’s nice, we get along great, and I think it could lead to something. He doesn’t care for my bestie, though, and says he wants us to be monogamous if we become “official”. He knows I’m poly, and feels it’s a thing for people who are afraid of commitment. To be with him, I need to prove I’m committed to him and him alone.
I’m torn. On the one hand, I really like this guy, and I know that I can’t rely solely on my bestie for my fucking/relationship needs for the rest of my life. On the other hand, sex with them is very important to us and our friendship, and I feel like if we stopped having sex, we would lose our connection and I’d be out of a friend.
What to do?
(Don’t) fuck this guy and the horse he rode in on. You can still fuck the horse though, if you do it in front of the guy and make sure he knows you know he’s watching. Imposing a condition of monogamy on a poly person, is, in effect, no different from telling a queer person they need to remain in the closet for you.
Body autonomy, motherfucker. You ever heard of it?
Nobody, ever, is or will be worth confining aspects of your identity/sexuality to tidy shelf space. I mean, maybe you’d be okay going monogs. For three weeks. Six months.
But a year? Two? The rest of your life? Let’s put the jade crayon down for a second and just acknowledge: Every hook up, every two week fling, “Mr/Mrs Right Now”, every contact we make with another person risks the chance of it being a lifer. Knowing what you’ll have to hide, what you’ll have to change about yourself, is that a risk worth taking?
And even if you are able to fit that part of you in a shoe box and throw it up in the attic, that doesn’t mean you, or he, will ever forget that it’s up there.
“I see you’re spending a lot of time with your friend? Do you like them? Do you want to have sex with them too? Am I not enough for you anymore? Are you regretting going monogamous for me? What kind of party are your friends having? Can I come? Is it going to be some free love party?’
How much of that do you think you can take?
And before you or the friend you shared this with to get a 3rd opinion accuse me of having a narrow-minded view of straight or monog people–
Some of that shit is AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.
Because I used to be that guy.
Before I came out, I used to be that hung-up-on-sex-and-gender guy who dated queer women and then flipped their shit whenever their then-girlfriend became friends with another queer woman.
They may not include the scene of me driving my Dodge Ram out into the Arizona desert, drinking myself to a stupor in the bed of my truck, crying and texting “I don’t blame you. If I could have been a pretty queer woman, I would be” to the wrong number and passing out in the final cut of the film about my life, but I’m sure they’ll film it just in case they need to pad it out, in case I never do get Dan Savage to wrestle me.
Giving up a part of yourself to be in a relationship with someone who does not accept the whole you is not a flat fee. It is a monthly payment that both of you will pay until you break up or one of you dies.
This guy is not worth the potential of losing your bestie, who this guy would probably forbid you from seeing because of your sexual history. It sounds like you and your bestie have a really good thing going, and I see no reason to give that up for someone with as stiff an admission fee.
If having sex with your bestie is meeting your current relationship needs, I don’t see the need to supplement/replace it with something else. I imagine that others in my position might argue that depending on the amount of love you for your bestie, it may in fact be a relationship, regardless of what you’re calling it, but recent text discussions with my brother on the topic:
(in referencing to me admitting I trade sexual favors with friends for other services)
Him: That isn’t kinda…off to you? Using sexual favors as like means of payment?
Me: It’s a favor between friends. Some people help you move. I do something else.
Me: I don’t fuck strangers or people who don’t share my politics.
Him: Ha, I feel the latter of the two options is the worse of the two.
Me: I think sex within a community strengthens ties and bonds. You’d be amazed the lengths people go for me because [description of sex act deleted].
Him: I just supposed I think it should have more value than that.
Me: I’m not opposed to making love per se, but losing a friend with benefits or a fuckbuddy has never made me go a week without eating or set fire to a box of photographs.
Disinclines me to render an opinion as to the “true” nature of your relationship with your bestie.
Love yourself. Love each other. Beyond that, it’s all just boring plot crap.
Black Dahlia Parton,
I caught my boyfriend (or maybe girlfriend, I guess, if that’s how they identify) dressed in women’s clothes. He took some pictures and put them on his laptop and I saw them when I borrowed it to type up a homework assignment (got bored, started snooping). I’m cool with it (great, really, I like a guy in a dress), and they weren’t my clothes so my privacy hasn’t been invaded. I guess I’m just sad that he would hide this from me (though not very well) and I want him to know that it’s okay to do that around me and that I’m here to support him. Is it okay for me to mention that I saw the images, and is it worse for me to admit I invaded his privacy or to continue letting him be in the closet about this?
Coming From A Good Place
This is my impression of how I would react to this question vs other queer advice columnists:
Some real talk:
You had no right to go snooping through your partner’s laptop. Once you saw that first picture, you should have just closed out of that folder and went back to writing your research paper. By scrolling through them, you’ve entered your partner’s safe space, forcibly jerking them out of the closet. Everyone has a right to the closet. Yea, we like to talk about it as if it’s some crime against the community to remain in the closet, but for some, it’s a necessary evil, a safety measure, and you had no right to take that safety away from your partner.
To say nothing of the possibility that perhaps dressing that way in secret was perhaps part of the thrill of it.
You snooped, and thus outed your partner to yourself.
Kay. That’s out of the way. What’s done is done.
Now you gotta come clean.
You saw something you shouldn’t have, and if I were you, I wouldn’t trust myself to keep that shit under wraps. And even if you were able to go without letting it slip (of which there are a millions way to do so without realizing), there is still the chance your partner will figure it out on their own. Tell me: Did you look at any relevant blogs/websites on his computer after finding those pictures? Did you look at any of the photos in an image viewer that will list the most recently opened files? Do you know if your partner’s computer has a keylogger?
Did you write to me from the computer you discovered the photos on?
I doubt, severely, that you can answer the appropriate Affirmative/Negative response to these questions.
It will be so much worse for them to find out through a slip, or doing some research and putting it together. You feel badly about them not telling you about this sooner (implying that this isn’t their first time, which it might be)? I’d wager they’d feel worse about finding out, at some random moment, perhaps even in public, that you snooped through their computer, found their pictures, and then tried to lie about it.
Just fess up.
Say you’re sorry.
Tell them you’re open to discuss it. Be open to not discussing it. Because they are not obligated to. They may not be ready. They may still be exploring what dressing that way means to them and their sexuality. Maybe it’s a fetish. Maybe it’s variant gender expression. Whatever the purpose of this activity, it’s possible that having to have the discussion about it now may disrupt the flow of discovery, so to speak, and force them to answer questions they haven’t even asked themselves.
It was their secret to keep. And if they choose not to talk about it with you, then it will continue to be.
Be patient. Be compassionate. I can assure you, with like 99.9 certainty, not telling you about this is definitely not a reflection of you as a romantic partner.
It is not about you and never will be, even if you try make it so.
But if they do want to talk about it, or you just want some information/support on the matter, I recommend these fine online resources:
All of these are terrible.
I’ll vouch for Helen Boyd’s website because she reblogged me once and I feel the need to reciprocate. And I read her book once and it was okay.
The rest are.
I just can’t.
I’ll tell you what.
Give me like, a month? Maybe a month in a half?
I’ll make some calls.
I’ll get some people together.
I’ll make a zine.
Just for you (and everyone else I share it with, obvs).
I cannot in good conscience give you to any of these fucking cretins. In fact, if you or anyone else googled “partner/wife/girlfriend of crossdresser” after reading this article, I will feel personally responsible for any emotional trauma you encounter.
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. HOW DOES SUCH TRANSPHOBIA AND INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY BECOME SO WIDEDLY SPREAD WITHOUT BECOMING AWARE OF HOW TERRIBLE IT IS?
Fuck it, we’ll do it live.
Black Dahlia Parton,
I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup. Sometimes I leave the house without any at all. Does this negate my femme identity? I feel judged and looked upon by other queers as a faker. What is the proper amount of makeup for a femme?
I have served on many a panel/workshop as the token femme, and I rarely, if ever, wear more than eyeliner, mascara, and foundation (and only when I can’t just pass the redness in my face off as adorable rosiness).
To suggest that all femmes must wear x amount of makeup or all butches need to wear this much flannel is a form of gender essentialism and COME ON GUYS I THOUGHT WE AGREED THAT WAS DUMB.
Femme is how you define it.
Because I don’t have a five paragraph answer, I’ll share some then and now pictures of me to demonstrate the problems with “all femmes/all women should wear makeup”.
This is me circa 2009:
That’s me after first moving into the Bay Area. Look out world!
This is one year of being unemployed, on a steady diet of ramen noodles and hot dogs, going multiple days at a time without leaving the house. I had to find a therapist or risk being asked to leave the house I was staying in. This is not the same person I was in 2009. To suggest that I should be expected to put on makeup when I could barely dress myself and get out of bed is ridiculous. This does not mean I was not femme at this time. That’s like saying “oh, you weren’t in a same sex relationship in 2010, you clearly weren’t queer that year”. This is pre-suicide attempt.
Me in 2011:
Still unemployed and begging/borrowing my way month to month. I’ve had a year of therapy. In a stable relationship. Organizing with Trans!Fix. Have a reason to leave the house and look good. Cut my shoulder-length hair as a commitment to myself to maintain my looks. Looking turbl makes me feel turbl. Minimal makeup. Lipstick and powder. Demure, yet timid. This is after my initial suicide attempt. I am still a little frail. Still not happy. Hiding behind oversized glasses. Afraid to be seen. This is me looking good for me. You can’t say I’m not femme in this picture. Do you see those PINK GARTERS?
Top: February, after my first vocal recital. Miles brought me flowers, though we hadn’t formally met yet. The instagam filter is hiding the two-weeks-of-disordered-eating palor of my skin. I have developed adult acne by this point, possibly from my irregular eating habits and erratic stop-and-go hormones (privilege check: I do not have issues with accessing hormones, I just have trouble motivating myself to take them every day when I get…foggy). Between purging and crying, there is a lot of shit going on and around my face, so lots of makeup is just messy. I start putting a flower in my hair to keep myself prissy and because it’s a lot of femme points for very little effort. I have not used a purse since 2010. Messenger bags all the way. I am still femme.
Bottom: Last week. I have dyed my hair black and cut half of it off. I’ve made my first zines. I’m writing music for a punk band. It’s been 7-8 months since I’ve had a therapist, and yet I don’t feel in crisis anymore, because I have stability and a creative outlet to channel my anger and angst. I’ve put all but one or two pairs of jeans in a box in the garage and forcing myself to wear skirts and dresses every day to keep myself upbeat. The eyeliner and mascara has likely worn off, but that, to me, is part of the charm. I really like it when makeup rubs/wears off. For me it says “I’m pretty but I will kick ass if I have to”. After some hard years of adjustment, I finally feel like I’m at home in the Bay Area, like I belong here and can never go back. I have a plan with what I want to do with my life. Eating regularly again, keeping up on my medication, coming on a year of no suicide attempts. Doesn’t matter; still femme.
If you ask me, these are all radically different people with different circumstances and feelings about themselves. Different people should not and do not wear the same makeup in the same configuration. You shouldn’t be expected to keep your makeup consistent throughout your entire life.
Femmephobia (n): the idea that all femmes should look alike.
Write to me at BlackDahliaParton@gmail.com.